Kit Downes – Tricko

tricko(Coup Perdu – available on CD and LP)

Tricko is the British pianist Kit Downes’ duo project with cellist Lucy Railton. They play pieces written specially for this project by Kit.

Downes may be best known in the jazz and jazz/rock fields in bands like his own trio and Troyka, and Railton may be more active in the area of contemporary classical music, but they both sound very happy in this area of musical overlap where Kit the composer can be inspired by Ravel or by minimalism or by stray sounds from the world around him, and where Kit and Lucy the players can exercise their considerable instrumental skills and clear empathy to greatest effect.

Jinn introduces us to the pianist’s familiar touch and harmonic sense but in a subtly different musical context. And the way in which the two instruments are intermingled is fascinating – sometimes a low piano key hit is almost indistinguishable from a cello string plucked. The compositions stress this interweaving, rarely giving a jazz structure of soloist and accompanist.

Alliri draws, the press notes tell me, on Downes’ love of Ravel, while Waira has a Japanese influence – the instruments here are set against the sound of falling rain for added atmospheric richness. Helkalen is slow and filled with space, giving it a lonely air although the richness of the broadening cello notes gives the suggestion that all is not as bleak as it might have seemed; Ihno also has background noise to it – the wind? the sea? Or is it an overtone of the bowed cello notes? Repeated clock chime phrases by piano and cello are apparently simple but acquire more complexity both of timbre and emotional depth as they continue, finally disappearing in a beguiling, icy mist.

The album is generally quiet and contemplative but neither writing nor playing is ever anything other than focussed and filled with energy. It’s increasingly absorbing.

I have been listening to the album on CD but Coup Perdu is the latest venture of the archive vinyl specialists Coup d’Achet, so I expect the LP version will sound spectacularly good. The recording quality is first class and the presentation, with an oil painting by Jackie Berridge for the cover art, is classy too.

Categories: CD review, LP review

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